Asia or Europe? That is the question for thousands of birds winging their way up from Africa on their annual migration each spring. The fork in the aerial highway happens at Dana Nature Reserve, Jordan’s largest of such, which contains four different microclimates–all now thrilling with spring.
Humans reach the reserve by driving down through Jordan’s Desert Highway, passing many warm shades of pastel sandy colours and gigantic power poles that dot the isolated landscape. Then as the road starts to descend through various dry villages, the first signs of vegetation arise as pine trees appear on either side. Finally you reach the starting point of the reserve, which is another world within the surrounding desert. Right there on the edge of the valley, you can see the whole wadi below, as eagles glide majestically below you.
Dana’s 320 square kilometres are home to over 800 plant species, many of which are rare, including three that are found only on the reserve and whose Latin names contain the term “Dana”. It also shelters several endangered types of birds and mammals such as Syrian Serin Serinus syriacus, Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni, Blanford’s Fox Vulpes cana and Nubian Ibex Capra Nubians.
The reserve is run by the Royal Society for Conservation of Nature, which maintains a wonderful equilibrium between the requirements of nature and those of the local community.